PEABODY – It has been a busy but memorable winter for Rabbi Evan Sheinhait, the new rabbi of Temple Tiferet Shalom of the North Shore.
On Dec. 12, the week before Hanukkah, he and his wife Micaela welcomed a new baby boy, Reuven Lev. And at the beginning of January, the Reform rabbi started his new job in Peabody.
“It’s a lot of change all at once,” Sheinhait said.
He spoke with the Jewish Journal during the week that marked a month since his son was born. Reuven Lev weighed six pounds and nine ounces when he was born. “I really love fatherhood,” Sheinhait said, adding that he and his wife “love having the new baby around.”
As he and his wife were getting ready for the new arrival, the rabbi was also getting to know Tiferet Shalom, which had been looking for a new spiritual leader since the departure of Rabbi David Kudan.
“I have some family here on the North Shore,” Sheinhait said. “I knew the area a little bit.”
Originally from Framingham, he has family connections to Peabody through family members who grew up close to the temple.“It’s how fate works,” Sheinhait said.
He also has family ties to his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His parents both went there, and he met his wife there. He graduated in 2014 with a degree in Judaic studies. He was also active in Hillel, an experience that led him to become a rabbi. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion at the New York campus. His first position as a rabbi was at the Brandeis University Hillel where he was senior Jewish educator, and worked in that capacity for the past three years.
Through a friend, Sheinhait learned about the open position at Tiferet Shalom.
“Initially Rabbi Evan interviewed for a gap-year rabbinic role,” Bryna Rosen Misiura, the temple president, said in an email. “Very quickly, however, we realized we would like to consider him for a longer-term role. With the High Holidays approaching, we retained him to lead our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.”
She noted, “In some ways, Rabbi Evan had a much more intense interview process than most because he had to not only prepare sermons and perfect the liturgy, but also coordinate with our Music Director and choir, work with our IT experts, and familiarize himself with our congregation’s High Holiday minhag – all on fairly short notice. Rabbi Evan’s leadership at High Holiday services was so highly received by our community that we were enthusiastic to offer him the position.”
Kudan had been the rabbi at Temple Tifereth Israel in Malden when it merged with Temple Beth Shalom in Peabody in 2015, and became the rabbi at the consolidated synagogue of Tiferet Shalom. He left last year to become the rabbi of Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester.
“Rabbi Kudan brought a warm, gentle, caring, yet intellectual approach to his role as spiritual leader of our community,” Misiura said. “His religious leadership during the [COVID-19] pandemic, and care and support he provided our families was exactly what our community needed in that difficult time. We will always look back with deep appreciation and gratitude for the time he spent with us.”
There are other changes taking place at Tiferet Shalom. It has a newly renovated building, and the new rabbi anticipates in-person service – sidelined during the pandemic – returning later this month.
“I’m excited to work with the board and community here at Temple Tiferet Shalom during this new phase – a new building, a new rabbi,” Sheinhait said. “A lot of exciting change is happening here.”